Interim cannabinoid ordinance approved

Six-month pause won’t affect businesses that already sell THC product

By John McLoone

The Hastings City Council Tuesday night gave final approval to an interim ordinance that will put a hold on any new business that wants to get into the business of selling cannabinoids.

There are several businesses that currently sell the “edibles,” and the interim ordinance will not affect what they are currently selling.

In discussion at their Sept. 6 meeting, councilmembers stressed they didn’t want to limit businesses already selling the cannabinoids.

The interim ordinance states, “No business, person or entity may establish a new use or expand an existing use that includes or involves the sales, testing, manufacturing, or distribution of cannabis in any way, whether medical or recreational, or any products that contain intoxicating cannabinoids extracted from hemp (CBD) in any form, for a period of up to six (6) months from the effective date of this ordinance or until ordinances regulating such uses become effective or until the Council rescinds this Interim Ordinance, whichever occurs first.”

Many other area municipalities, including the City of Cottage Grove, have enacted similar moratoriums.

The cannabinoid issue was sent to the Public Safety Advisor Committee made up of citizens before being forwarded to the city council’s Public Safety Committee, which made the sixmonth pause recommendation.

“We want to make sure we have safe and effective regulations in place, but we don’t want to overburden something that in state law is legal,” said City Administrator Dan Wietecha.

Councilmember Lisa Leifeld, who serves on the PSC, said the sixmonth time frame was chosen because guidance may come from the State Legislature, which in a surprise move in May, legalized sale of the edible cannabinoids. She said there is also confusion among merchants selling the product.

“This is happening. This is legal, but the state isn’t giving us any direction,” she said. “We don’t want to make it harder for businesses to do business in Hastings. We want to make sure we’re taking care of our community and, specifically, the minors in our community. We want to make sure we have all the checks and balances in place to make sure it’s not falling into the hands of our teenagers.”

Councilmember Lori Braucks also serves on the PSC. She said that the committee talked about having some community conversations to inform the public about the matter and get input on developing a final ordinance.

“We want it to be a community process and not just a council process,” she said.

The third committee member, Trevor Lund, said, “Any business that’s currently selling it, there is no impact. Any additional vending would be paused.”

A couple councilmembers stressed that they don’t want passage of a final ordinance to move at a “snail’s pace.”

Braucks said the committee intentionally didn’t use the term “moratorium,” because the city is just using the interim ordinance “to pause and collect data.”

“Who’s selling it? How is it being sold? There’s a lot of data we want to gather. There’s a lot of information we want to get. The PSC had a very good conversation of wanting to get that information. When we get that information, we’ll have a full picture,” she said. “Our motivation as a committee is not to slow down the process and drag our feet.”

Leifeld commented, “I don’t want someone to be able to walk into a gas station and next to Sour Patch kids, they can buy cannabinoids, edible marijuana. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

She noted that there likely will be more changes coming from the state on sale of products that contain THC.

“We’re talking dispensaries in the future. That’s what’s next you guys. The dispensaries come in. They’re specialists in the industry. They’re highly regulated,” she said. “Right here, we don’t have any of that yet. To me, it’s a matter of waiting to see what the state is going to do next. She said the city needs to look into special licensing, like places that sell alcohol and tobacco have.

“The PSAC did an excellent job of putting together the information to get us started,” said Leifeld. “This is in no way meant to stop anything. It’s how do we make this work for the community.”

September 21, 2022